More James Ellroy than La La Land

teacup-2325722_1280Everybody who lives in Los Angeles seems to love it. I have yet to meet an exception. Even my cynical friends confess their undying attachment to it. It’s their everlasting commitment to the Entertainment industry, that abusive boyfriend of careers. Good looking, arrogant, James Dean bad boy, aloof, yet occasionally interested, the Entertainment industry holds people in its spell. No matter how much it rejects them, they run back whenever it calls.

A town too small, yet too big. In love with itself yet too insecure to appreciate anything new borne from its womb. Unless an artist receives approval from New York or other competitors, she does not exist. Sounds like sour grapes, but it’s just an observation. Ask Mark Ruffalo. Nobody worked harder than he to get representation in this town, one man shows, dozens of mailings, tireless networking. Then he goes to New York, has one good show and L.A. clambers over itself to get to him. One agent asked him, “Where have you been? Why haven’t we heard of you?”

As any true narcissist, L.A. gazes upon itself in full loving adoration and calls anything the establishment does as good. The L.A. Times regularly bathes the L.A. Opera, the Mark Taper Forum, and The L.A. Philharmonic with glowing reviews. I often wonder if that dude even goes to see the shows. La La Land swept up awards not because it deserved to, but because it was a love letter to the industry.

Once, as I exited the freeway and stopped at the light I saw a young guy with long brown hair and a stoney expression. He held a sign that read, “Musician. Hate L.A. Trying to get out. Please help.” I don’t know how effective that was, but it was the only time I saw anyone openly admit to hating L.A..

I attended dozens of industry parties when I first arrived here nearly ten years ago. I found I had two things to offer, well one really, fucking. Gross, I know. But this is a gross city and I didn’t have a career or a body of work to offer anyone. Just a body. Once somebody assessed that I wasn’t important enough, sexy enough, or young enough to help them, they’d be on their way, eyes darting around the room, hunting.

I almost dated a gorgeous guy with a million dollar smile until I found out he lived in a bedroom in someone’s house so he could lease a brand new BMW and pay for acting and writing classes. He wasn’t even good.

That’s L.A..

Miranda Frum wrote a piece about how a hypnotist to the stars helped her quit smoking in The Daily Beast this week. She’s a model with a famous journalist father. Frum gets her opportunities the way most people in L.A. get them, nepotism and looks. Just read her pieces in The Beast and you’ll agree. It’s like Tom Hanks’ wife Rita Wilson. I read a piece of her’s in Vogue once and nearly fell asleep four sentences in. Writing isn’t easy folks. Take a course. Oh, but she did. I worked at a screenwriting training facility to the stars 12 years ago where she received private tutoring. Have you seen anything she’s written?

Frum loves L.A.. In the article she writes about cerulean skies and perfect cloudless days. The hypnotist charges $800 for an in person session. There’s the option to stream him online for $9.99. She chose the $9.99 option for obvious reasons, right? Because she doesn’t have $800 to spend on a single session, right? No, she chose it because she didn’t want to drive the 45 minutes from Hollywood to Santa Monica. In the end, however, she makes the drive and visits the dude and is now living a charmed smoke free life writing on her glorious balcony and drinking her Ayurvedic tea.

That’s L.A.

My L.A. is more James Ellroy than La La Land. “You hate it so much, why don’t you leave?” You ask. What’s the alternative, New York? I don’t know the answer. I still don’t know what I want to be when I grow up. No, that’s not true. I want to be a writer. I just don’t know how to be it.

7 thoughts on “More James Ellroy than La La Land

  1. I could read an entire book on this subject…. 😉

    I was just lamenting how the music video from a local rock band… was filmed in LA!

    My response? “Sell out!”

    I had to explain to my daughter why:

    – plenty of local venues… that were near them when the WROTE the song. *grumble*

    Enjoyed this! Thx!

    1. That’s right. The country grows increasingly homogenous when artists only go to the coasts for validation. It’s important they receive it, mind you. They have to get recognized otherwise, no money. But keeping close their roots brings more to the diversity in our country. And here’s a secret…both coasts respect it.

  2. I grew up calling this city La La Land. A phrase that was part whimsy part insult. I have yet to see the movie. Don’t know why. I’m made of the same stuff. The glamour and glitz of Hollywood movies was mothers milk as I was growing up. But now that I’m here – in grown up land – I do indeed savor the grit and darkness of Ellroy more than all that shiny veneer that in the end is little more than a harlot’s paint. La La Land. It sounds like a drug-induced coma. Of course too much of Ellroy’s underbelly and those drugs might sound pretty good. Anyway, nice piece my friend. You got me going.

    1. Thanks. Several local friends have said, as they often do, that this piece made them want to defend L.A.. i think it’s important to know that both sides are true…. Most people don’t want the whole truth…I can’t help it. If I could live in LA LA Land, I would…I’m glad I’m not alone.

  3. I grew up in California, near San Francisco, and I hated LA. I never understood its appeal. However, I recognize that it exists, as well as the broader draw of “the coasts.” There remains that belief that everything truly sophisticated and wise exists near the ocean, and perhaps there is some element of truth to that thought — certainly there is a different attitude in NY and LA toward life. But it takes something from you, as well.

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